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On Monday, I participated in a call with MenLiving member, Tony Schmidt, and Dr. Daniel Ellenberg. Dr. Ellenberg, is a psychotherapist, marriage and relationship therapist, author, and facilitator. He has been leading men’s groups for over 30 years and is the new sitting president of the American Psychological Association’s “Division 51: Society for the Psychological Study of Men & Masculinities.” We were talking to explore how best to have Daniel come visit with our community and share his knowledge and experience to all of you. Shocker…In exploring several concepts, we offered personal anecdotes. At one point, as we discussed fear to connect, Daniel explained that we lose (or is it sucked out of us) the wonder (the courage!) of our childhood. He shared that we didn’t have a problem asking for friendship as children. Moving closer to his camera, in an innocent boy’s voice he said, “I like you…do you like me?” Got to say…I got a little verklempt. As a man, do I fear putting myself out there? Being authentic? Asking for what I truly want and need? Do I lack the “courage to connect?”

When I lack the courage to connect, here’s what I do:

I don’t say 

I don’t do 

I am too concerned with what others might think

I think about this last issue a lot. Coincidently, I just read in Matt Haig’s book, Notes on a Nervous Planet, a passage where he writes,

How to be Happy:

  1. Don’t compare yourself to other people
  2. Don’t compare yourself to other people
  3. Don’t compare yourself to other people
  4. Don’t compare yourself to other people
  5. Don’t compare yourself to other people
  6. Don’t compare yourself to other people
  7. Don’t compare yourself to other people

While Haig is primarily writing about how we engage with the internet, I am taking liberties and suggesting letting others influence (determine??) who I will be is not a way to happiness. 

So, I strive to say the things I am leaving unsaid, do the things I am leaving undone and not being concerned about what others might be thinking (how will I know anyways?). I think that will get me to real connection.

One last item. Back to Dr. Ellenberg.  Daniel explores the intra and interpersonal courage in a program he calls “Ultimate Courage.” Ultimate Courage invites us through self-awareness and self-compassion to live a better life and confidently explore and enter conversations/relationships that enrich our lives. 

Stay tuned…We plan to welcome Dr. Ellenberg to a MenLiving event in the near future. And for a invite you, in the meantime, to have the courage to connect.

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